Monday, October 31, 2011

Just out of the Fog

"There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still" - Corrie Ten Boom

I believe that and a few times have had only that belief with me as I struggled not to tip over some edge.  Gee, that sounds really heavy.   But I'm talking about a normal person coming to the end of themselves.  There really isn't that much of me, so it shouldn't be surprising when there's nothing more I can do about something.  

Today I'm coming out of a couple of months of migraine fog culminating in a few days of pain I cannot describe.  I am seasoned at functioning smoothly through migraines that make childbirth look like a relaxation exercise, so know that it really was like coming to the end of myself.  I say this because it fell at a time when I was trying to accept a painful truth about something in my life and what the end result would be.  I was already feeling a little helpless.  Then, the nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, fuzzy memory, and fatigue were just icing and had been coming on so slowly that I almost accepted it as normal, until the real headache began.   Trust me, the headaches weren't psychosomatic and I wasn't being melodramatic ( I saw the x-rays of my neck- I was injured on vacation.)  So, it was all hitting me at once and making it almost impossible to think, much less function.  I did finally focus enough to go see the doctor (though I went in with my shirt on backwards- no kidding) and was following his orders, so there was nothing else I could do.  But, it was one of those times where too many bricks are stacked on top of me and no matter how calm or thorough I try to be, I can neither take them off nor keep them stacked.  I was just going to get a little flattened before it was all over.

At one point I knew that if this pain shooting through my head didn't stop soon there was no other place this could end but the emergency room.  Who would pick up the kids?  Could I drive like this?  What is wrong with me?    I remember saying to God, "I need you now" when I thought I would pass out, and I kind of wanted to.

In those moments I would remember fragments of verses, some I learned as a child, about His comfort and His purpose in my life, even if that purpose requires enduring some pain.  I remembered "On Christ the solid rock I stand.  All other ground is sinking sand."  I thought about how we sang that as children without realizing that in this song He was very much aware that we were on slippery ground.  It implied that He allows it, even orders it, so that we must stand on Him alone.  Kids never think about things like that.

I had flashes of part of Acts I'd been reading where Jesus' apostles are flogged for speaking His name and they are so excited about it because they were counted worthy enough to suffer for Him.  My problem with that has always been that my personal suffering wasn't Christian martyr stuff.  I live in America, I'm not under persecution.  This month it was headaches and pinched nerves.  How does this bring Him glory?

But here's the thing, I am learning that any suffering we endure the right way- not getting mean or too frightened or relying on some thing to medicate it that can't really, but instead relying on Him- brings glory to Him.  There may be no benefit that I can see with my eyes, and no other soul may know what we've done, but if I love Him (and I do) knowing I did this well is enough.  I am almost scared to write that, because it sounds like the most adult thing I've ever said.  Plus, I may turn around and act like a total baby about something else tonight.  But, there it is.

grateful, day 255

Someone once told me that we are likes tubes of toothpaste and we have to be squeezed to see what is inside.  Well, I'm glad that, under this pressure, these were some of the thoughts that came out and that it wasn't all, "Woe is me!" and expletives.   Make no mistake, "Woe is me!" was definitely in there too.

Thankfully, things are being straightened out and I am not in that kind of pain anymore.  But, I have to say that I felt like I was being given a physical, literal picture to how I have to withstand pain of any kind.  That I may feel the most incredible pain for a long period of time but still have to choose what I do with my thoughts and with myself during it.  I hope I'm ready.

Today I was able to walk without pain in the cool morning air and I was very grateful.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Purple Friday

You know, like Purple Tuesdays... only not.

There is just way too much purple on my memory card these days.  It's all due to my daughter attending a high school that is slightly akin to a cult.  Where the drama of life and death unfold on the football field.  Where season tickets are willed to family members upon death, and where "Cut me!  I bleed purple."  is heard at least once a week during the fall.  

I wasn't exactly "Miss School Spirit" back when I was a teenager.  I must have slept through the pep rallies because I don't even remember them.  I never wore purple on Fridays- it didn't even occur to me.  I was definitely in my own world.  I did, however, learn the fight song in French, which you can imagine has taken me far in life. I think I can count on one hand how many football games I attended back then.  But now I'm at most of them, squinting through glasses to find the ball.  I even know what a "down" is.  

I'm there for my girl, but I also love to people watch and it doesn't get any better than grown men half-crying/ half-screaming in THE most southern accent you will find, "Come on D!!!"

So without further explanation or disclaimers, I present a bit of my Friday nights.  

(You can't have Friday without Dairy Queen, day 255)


Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Grow a Full Beard in Seven Days

First you have to do some prep work by reading The Lord of The Rings.  
Secondly, you have to have a mother who knows how to knit.

day 285

  This Halloween, my son and I decided to combine our super powers of science fiction reading and knitting to make him a partial costume since he's feeling too old for the full thing.  Books and hand crafts  - yes, we have wild and crazy times in our home. 

On day two we find my dwarven warrior wearing bobbles on his head.   At this point the needles are the only fierce looking thing about it.  

 But day three brings some facial hair with it, though it's a little more Hasidic Jew than mighty dwarf.

 I think he realizes this.

 Below, you see day 6 and he's got a whole Nebuchadnezzar look going on.  This will really blow them away in Sunday School.  (Like I said, wild and crazy times.)

 I threaded the braid strands through stitches at the temple.  They were 9 to 12 strands thick, for those of you on the edge of your seat, ready to rush right out and get supplies for your very own dwarf beard.

By day 7, the bobbles have been felted to look almost like rivets.  The only hitch was that felting it in warm water for 5 minutes made Gimli's braids look a little more like Bob Marley's dreads.  But Gimli was a pretty scruffy dude, so I think it's okay with my son.

  Yeah, he likes it.

more on my Flickr and my Ravelry

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Little Blocks of Color

More phone dailies.  Will I never catch up?  Instagram and ShakeIt really are the closest digital thing to a polaroid one step.  

day 260

Think I'm going to make a blurb book with some of our different phone/ ipod photos for Christmas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Humor Me

Some more animal lover dailies here.  Humor me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Closer Look

Here's a few more daily photos from the end of summer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Night Owls


And that's about as exciting as a knitting post is going to get.

I thought about this sweater all of last winter.  It was my carrot, my reward, for de-stashing.  I didn't want to buy more yarn for it without using some up because of the yarn horde in the garage.   (I meant, hoard- but see my garage and you may think horde is more appropriate.) 
Now, Fall is here and I just couldn't wait anymore, so I used the wool I had on hand, made the most of being awake at night with sinus headaches, and got me some Owls.

What an ingenious idea, Kate Davies!  Using cables to form owls with button eyes around the yoke, who would think of that?  It calls for a chunky yarn (I held two strands of Patons Classic Wool together) and is seamless so it really can be finished in a couple of days, or, as is often the case, a couple of late nights.

 The other knitters on Ravelry were right, it is a three day project... but not for me.  I started over twice on the body.  Once, to make a modification and the second time because I watch too much tv while knitting and absentmindedly cast on too few stitches.  So, when I added my sleeves to the body, I was 4 stitches short and couldn't do the owl pattern.  I considered just making one owl smaller... and a cyclops, but decided against it.

I don't know why I do these things to myself.  This wasn't a difficult pattern, but I guess I have a subconscious need for drama, so I started the body again.

Aside from my own inherent need to complicate things, this pattern was a breeze.  I had my pattern marked with the correct mods for this final attempt and watched something stupid on Netflix while knitting, like Felicity, (talk about drama) that didn't require mental energy.   Any show where great portions of each episode are spent lingering on college kids shyly saying, "um, Hey" "Um, yeah, hey" to one another shouldn't befuddle my knitting math.

How I modified 
based on lots of other knitters' notes:  

1) The first change was to work 3 inches of stockinette between the decrease and increase rounds for a better fit.  You can see before and afters, below:  

(before spacing out decreases and increases)
(after adding 3" of stockinette between decreases and increases)

2) I also moved all shaping to the sides so the back wouldn't poof out (I slump enough at it is)

3) and left off the last increase on the body (That's 4 decreases and 5 increases total for a size 2, all on the sides.)   Though it reduced the stitch count by 4 stitches on the body, it allowed me to add 2 stitches to each sleeve.

This way, when I joined all of the pieces, I still had the correct stitch count for the owls portion, but with a little extra room in the arms, which many knitters found tight.   My biceps aren't exactly buff, but I do start to feel panicky when constricted in tight clothes.  There's nothing worse than spending weeks on a project just to feel like Bruce Banner about to blow.  I need full range of motion.  That's why I test these things when shopping:  swinging my arms to the sides, crossing them, deep knee bending, ninja crawling in the Target fitting room... you know basic, everyday movements.

4)  For the sleeve increases I increased two stitches immediately after the ribbing on each sleeve to get back to the correct stitch count (as I explained above.) 

5) I then knit for 3 1/2 inches before starting the regular sleeve increases.
6) When I joined the body and sleeves, I knit two more rows of stockinette than the pattern called for to get more ease in the armpit area.

7) I followed the pattern for the rest of the project, except I went down two sizes on the needle I used for the neckline ribbing and only sewed two buttons on for eyes.

Besides learning a few techniques for getting more ease in the under arms, I also learned to work a stretchy bind off for ribbing.  It did work better and have a cleaner edge than the usual bind off I use.

Okay, I don't know about you, but that's about all of my frizzy hair and shiny face I can take for one post.  Tomorrow, it's back to still life photos.  But right now, I'm going to read this post to my husband and see how far I get before he zones out.

more on my Ravelry

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sentimental, Sappy Stuff

I kept waiting and collecting images of my children, thinking I'd write some meaningful post about them, but I feel too scattered to do them justice.  All I have are random thoughts that flash through my mind during the day, like:

I can't lift either of them anymore. 

Do they remember picking flowers or wielding swords on our walks?

Do they remember what it was like to be at home together all day, playing pretend, doing household chores extra slow so the littlest could help?

day 238

My husband and I each have one small box of childhood drawings, toys, or awards.  My children have three big, rubbermaid tubs worth of drawings, crafts, and baby clothes (not including the old toys we keep in the toy museum we sometimes call a garage.)

When they hear The Beatles, will they think of me the way Herb Alpert makes me think of my mother?

day 232

Why have I not put our home movies onto disc yet?

I might never play with Star Wars action figures again.

Did they get their sarcasm from me?

His hair still smells salty like the beach.

Do they remember playing like they had super powers all the time-
 "My super power is to shoot fire from my eyes."  
"Well, my power is to freeze fire."  
"Mine power is to have every power." 
"Then mine is to be immune to all super powers."  
"My power is to lay down and be quiet." 
(Guess which one was mine.)

Once in a while, she will be so busy that I may not hug her, or even touch her all day.

I feel sentimental about every trace of them, lately.  So if you see me lovingly examining grass from soccer cleats on the floorboard of my car, you will understand.  Everything.

Will we take another big family vacation together in the next few years? 

day 237
Yesterday I caught them jumping on the trampoline together.  I remember the Christmas morning 8 years ago when we set it up in the backyard, then sent them out "to get something." When they saw it they froze, then grabbed each other, screaming.  They always shared in each other's happiness.

Nothing pleases me more than when I say or do something that makes an unexpected smile creep across one of their faces... well, nothing except when one of them makes the other smile that way.